Big Green overwhelm Lions
The Dartmouth football team made it five wins in a row this weekend with a wild 43-27 victory over the Columbia Lions in New York City.
Dartmouth sandwiched two Columbia-owned second and third quarters between an overpowering first and fourth for the Big Green, with 17 and 20 unanswered points respectively in those two quarters.
"It was an up and down game for both teams, and it just seemed like whoever made the most big plays was going to win," safety Lloyd Lee '98 said about the see-saw battle Saturday.
Lee's big play in the fourth quarter, a crucial break-away touchdown punt return, ended up being the final blow that kept Columbia down for good.
The win for Dartmouth lifted them into a three-way tie for third in the Ivy League, while Columbia, 3-2 in the Ivies and 3-4-1 overall, continued to slide from its former perch on top of the League earlier this season.The Big Green, now 3-2 in the Ivies and 6-2 overall, looked like they were going to run away with this one, jumping ahead 17-0 on their first three possessions in the game, but the Lions made things a bit more complicated, thanks to a three-touchdowns-in-four-minutes momentum stealing second quarter.
But first things first. Quarterback Jon Aljancic '97 and a medley of blockers executed the option play to perfection twice, from 17 and 12 yards out, to round up two quick Dartmouth touchdowns on the Big Green's first two drives.
Columbia got the ball back on its own 22, and on the Lions first play, a Lion running back fumbled on a hard tackle from defensive end Jeff English '96, and linebacker Zach Walz '98 pounced on the loose ball, handing it back to the offense at the Lion 21. Dave Regula '98 added a field goal off that drive to top off what looked like the start of a blowout, 17-0.
"Honestly once we scored a couple of times, I thought everything was going to go our way and that it was going to be another Colgate game," Lee said, eluding to Dartmouth's 35-14 shellacking of Colgate on Homecoming Weekend.
All of a sudden, the Lions roared back with 21 unanswered points in four minutes of the second quarter to swallow up Dartmouth's quick start.
The Lions first struck with an efficient seven play, 79-yard, two minutes touchdown gash through the Big Green defense. After the ensuing kickoff, Dartmouth, starting from its own six, turned the ball over on a fumbled hand-off between Aljancic and Ambrose Garcia '97.
Then 20 seconds after its last touchdown, Columbia scored again, this time on a four-yard run from 247 pound Lion running back, human tank, John Harper.
Columbia converted on another Dartmouth mistake after the Big Green got a punt blocked following an errant snap. Starting from Dartmouth's 14, Columbia punched it in again to completely turn the game around and give the Lions the lead, 21-17.
The Big Green managed to salvage the first half as quarterback Ren Riley '96 came in and got the team back on track, leading Dartmouth to a retaliatory 80-yard touchdown drive. Tailback Greg Smith '97 covered most of that ground himself, on a screen pass from Riley at the Columbia 40, which he sprinted down the right sideline for the 23-21 half-time lead.
Dartmouth only managed one first down in the third quarter, and surrendered another Lion touchdown, leaving them heading into the fourth quarter down on the scoreboard for the first time in more than a month.
But the Big Green regrouped in the fourth, and after a defensive shut down of the Lions, Lloyd Lee '98 regained the momentum, breaking free with a 45-yard touchdown punt return to vault Dartmouth back on top, 30-27, with 11 minutes left to play.
"We called a different return than we have been for most of the season," Lee said. "I just made one quick move and then it was all blocking from there... It feels great just to break one and to have it come at a crucial time makes it that much better."
And all of a sudden, as if according to plan, in came the Dartmouth defense that had dominated the last four straight Dartmouth wins. The Big Green defense stood up the Lions when it mattered most, shutting down their next three drives in the fourth quarter.
Just when it mattered most Dartmouth's offense came alive, coming up with its gutsiest drive of the day. Starting from the Columbia 42, the Big Green offense beared down on two fourth down plays against a desperate Lion defense and tailback Dylan Karciewski '99 signaled it was time to warm up the Lion locker room showers, with an untouched trot from the four through an overpowering front line to sink the crucial touchdown, 37-27.
For insurance purposes, the Dartmouth defense poached the next Lion attack in no time, as Walz deflected a pass and defensive back Brad Jefferson '98 pulled it in, to hand control back over to Dartmouth.
The highly touted rookie Karciewski then added a second touchdown to his first Ivy six ever on preceding drive, sprinting in from the 20 to close the scoring, 43-27.
Next Saturday, Dartmouth, with two games left in the season, will host Brown (1-4 Ivies, 4-4 overall) at Memorial Field at 1:00 p.m.